The sign says no running, and the tiles are slick with water sloshed up from bodies heaving soaked costumes over the ceramic edge. Blown out cheeks, red eyes, and tremble arms, one bloke who kick off as if it will propel him up, flailing mockery of a front crawl splattering onto the pool edge where a teenage lifeguard squeegees the flooded walkway back to damp, yellow shirt a symbol that he’s been trained to fetch a brick from the depths of the deep end. Moves slow while his colleague plays cat’s cradle, with the whistle roped around their neck, discuss who will hose down the shower stalls, since the pool is almost empty now, apart from the elderly pair doing lengths, and a girl bone dry in the changing room arch telling herself to step out of the fringes before the clock on the wall ticks along further and the whistle is blown for the last call.
I chose option three for tonight’s poetics prompt, and incorporated the word fringe into my poem. I’ll admit to feeling a little apprehensive about posting, especially when one of my previous poems got a shout out in the prompt post, I felt as if I’d set a standard to live up to.
The bins have been emptied, their silver bellies lined and sprayed to quell the stink from last week’s puddling condensation tack dried at the base. In the background the washing thumps, thuds, thunks, throws itself around drum wet and clinging, till the spin cycle sticks it tight to the very edge of a whining whirl. Clementine clouds each counter, cloth swept of crumbs so they shine when the clouds part, sun splitting through the grey and spilling onto the tiles, knuckled into a gleam on hands and knees, so your face stares back up at me tight lipped and furious, about to speak till the sponge cuts you off. I can soap over those features but eventually it all dries out and there you are watermarked sprawled across this floor, elbows and knees against the tiles, and the dishwasher bleeping that it is time.
Tonight’s DVerse Challenge is to focus on adding a ‘turn’ or a ‘window’ into our poem. I’ll admit my focus has drifted slightly at the end of this, as something keeps beeping down in the kitchen and investigation is probably in order.
So many orphaned sorrows, I gather the castoffs, pluck stories by root, dirt clotted, waterlogged. Old tears still bloom with dark, thickened flowers. In the potting shed I ease them one by one into terracotta bassinets. Pack soil round tight, to keep them from weeding out into the garden proper, before their time. From the window, half-light, slips between the shelving slats trips over spiderwebs and drip trays. Safety among the looming gloom, safe from the unearthing grief.
Tonight’s poetics challenge was to take a line from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox, and to build a poem around it. My choice was “I am the mother of sorrows; I am the ender of grief;” which has led to this rather odd piece.
On the very edge, where you go to curl your toes into prayers. Ten tiny bodies bent shoulder and hip heads tucked in tight as if curved spines can protect them from the weight pressing forward, you, so wind washed of expression, clinging on.
I can knot myself into a kaleidoscope. Pull in every shade of my being till I flicker out of sight, be whole in my absence. Still, a Muse will find my reflection in the ripples on a lake, a shivering blade of grass, half a note of birdsong. Some such poetic nonsense always betrays me. Reveals the stress fractures scattering from my joints, the places you will press into me to dig out meanings. To understand me you must dismantle all the elements within these limbs then jigsaw them into your own creation. Redefine all the colours in the prism, and leave none to belong to me.